Football: Johor Crown Prince clarifies that he is not buying Italian club AC Milan

Johor crown prince Tunku Ismail Sultan Ibrahim during the interview with The Sunday Times, on April 20, 2016.
Johor crown prince Tunku Ismail Sultan Ibrahim during the interview with The Sunday Times, on April 20, 2016.ST PHOTO: JAMIE KOH

SINGAPORE - Johor Crown Prince (Tunku Mahkota Johor) Tunku Ismail Sultan Ibrahim clarified in a Facebook post on Sunday (Apr 24) that he is not buying Italian club AC Milan.

In an interview with The Sunday Times, Tunku Ismail, chairman of Malaysian club Johor Darul Takzim (JDT), had said he was "planning to buy" the 18-time Serie A winners and was in the "research and discussion" stage.

In the post on JDT's Facebook page on Sunday evening, Tunku Ismail clarified that owning the Rossoneri was "one of (his) dreams".

He said: "Recently I've been interviewed by The Straits Times Singapore regarding my accomplishments with JDT and other goals in life in general. I was also asked if I have any interest in buying a foreign club. My exact answer was yes. If I have to pick a club, it would have to be Milan. That's one of my dreams.

"But it doesn't mean I'm going to buy it. It's just a club that I've adored since I was young. That's all. So to answer any speculations, the answer is No. I'm not buying Milan. I don't have money to buy Milan. I'm not rich like other Malaysian businessmen. I'm just a young man with a dream and big ambitions that's all. My club JDT can't even beat Kedah and other Malaysian teams. I'm not going to take Milan having to go head on with Juventus and other Italian giants. I simply dare not. My club is only JDT. A small club with big ambitions."

Milan are owned by former Italy prime minister Silvio Berlusconi, who has signalled his intention to sell the debt-laden club.

Berlusconi is currently considering an offer from a Chinese consortium, reported to be worth €700 million (S$1.06 billion). Thai businessman Bee Taechaubol was linked last year but talks have since stalled.

Last Wednesday, Tunku Ismail told The Sunday Times: "I'm planning to buy AC Milan but we'll see how it goes. I love Milan, I have always loved Italian clubs since I was young."

When asked how advanced talks were, he added: "In doing research and discussion (stage) but we'll see how it goes, I think the target is always JDT but if I can buy a club in Europe it'll be AC Milan.

"Hopefully we have the link with Milan and JDT in the future, who knows. And that will be direct collaboration, not just a very small collaboration. That will be very direct."

JDT's fortunes have improved ever since Tunku Ismail took over as chairman in 2012. Until then, their last notable success was the 1991 league and Malaysia Cup double.

However, they have since added two consecutive Malaysian Super league titles in 2014 and 2015. Last year, they became the first South-east Asian club to win the Asian Football Confederation Cup, Asia's second-tier club competition. They beat Tajikistan's Istiklol 1-0 in the final to clinch the Cup.